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Emanuel Lasker vs Wilhelm Steinitz
Hastings (1895), Hastings ENG, rd 9, Aug-16
Spanish Game: Morphy Defense. Modern Steinitz Defense (C72)  ·  1-0



Annotations by Isidor Gunsberg.      [6 more games annotated by Gunsberg]

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Kibitzer's Corner
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Premium Chessgames Member
  tamar: Gunsberg sounds bewildered but fair in the tournament book discussing the situation where Steinitz repositioned all his pieces back to the 8th rank.

After 17...Ng8:

"Black has now completed his strategic movement toward the rear. If this is good strategy, then the modern theory of development must be all wrong. One fact , however must be borne in mind. Black has all his pieces concentrated on his base, and is certainly less assailable. If White rashly advances against this formation, Black could probably break up the White line with advantage to himself."

Apr-22-05  Calli: fascinating game. Is 25.Nxe5 good? Instead of 28...Bxg4, black has 28...Kg8 29.g5 Nexd5! 30.exd5 Qxe5 31.Rxe5 Ng4 32.Re4 Bxg5 33.Rh1 Bf6 34.Bxf6 Nxf6=
Premium Chessgames Member
  tamar: <Is 25.Nxe5 good?> Probably, although I suspect the follow-up 26 Qxe5 is too straightforward, allowing the counter-sacrifice and equality as the analysis by <calli> showed.

Giving the move to Black seems better as his main problem is making escape squares for his King. White can use his move to get in g5 before the complications. I tested it with Shredder 9

26 g5 Nxd5 27 exd5 f4 28 Bxf4 Rxf4 29 Rxe5 Bf6 30 gxf6 Qf7 31 Ne4 Bf5 (31...Nxf6 32 c6) 32 Re1 Bxe4 33 Rxe4 Rxf6 34 Re6 Rf8 35 Qe5 and White still has the pin and an extra pawn. 2.22

Apr-23-05  Calli: <Tamar> Good point. Some defense may be possible with 26.g5 Nc8 27.exf5 gxf5 although white has the advantage.

Perhaps we can play your move even earlier 25.g5 Nc8 26.exf5 gxf5 27.Bd2 and e5 looks hard to defend.

Premium Chessgames Member
  tamar: Steinitz thought 24...h6 would improve over the game to give his King some air and also to stop g5 I suppose. "It was pointed out by Mr Steinitz that he would have done better with 24...h6 first." Gunsberg

In that case though, Lasker could have played 25 Qb4 with a double attack on d6 and b7. He also could have played 24 Qb4 instead of 24 Qc3, but was no doubt focussed on a direct attack against the King.

Premium Chessgames Member
  An Englishman: Good Evening: For an even stranger redeployment, see the game in Samuel Beckett's novel Murphy.

As for this game, Gunsberg's annotation is quite perceptive; it shows that the greatest players of the 19th Century could understand modern concepts if you put them in a time machine and bring them to the present.

Also, note how Lasker wasn't flustered; Gunsberg and Lasker both perceived the dangers of proceeding too rashly, and Lasker does conduct the attack in a sound fashion, staying with his Queen side strength and attacking the base of Black's pawn chain in accordance with hypermodern theory.

The surprise is that Steinitz tried the standard ...f5 advance so soon. This is out of character for him. He usually played more patiently than this. Would 24...Nc8 have been a better move?

Premium Chessgames Member
  tamar: Steinitz may have seen the danger of getting no play at all if he waited too long for ...f5

24...Nc8 may last a bit longer, but it pushes back preparations for ...f5 and further isolates the rook on a8.

The simple 25 Qb4 would present serious problems of defense.

25...b6 or 25...Rb8 both fail to 26 c6 trapping the bishop

25... dxc5 26 Bxc5 Be7 27 Nxe5 loses the e pawn a different way.

May-06-05  aw1988: <12 ... Bs4 13. f5> Ugh. Yes, I went here just to get the proper moves.
Apr-09-06  who: In the notes to 10th move I would play 13.Bb1
Oct-22-06  MrMelad: haha, move 17..Ng6 looks like Fisherandom...
Premium Chessgames Member
  Pawn and Two: <Calli & tamar> After 28...Kg8 29.g5 Nexd5 30.exd5 Qxe5 31.Rxe5 Ng4 32.Re4 Bxg5 33.Rh1? Bf6 34.Bxf6 Nxf6, Fritz confirms the final position is equal.

However, White is better in this line with, 33.f3! Nh6 34.Bd3 Nf5 35.Nxf5 Bxf5 36.Bc4 Bxe4 37.d6+ Rf7 38.fxe4 cxd6 39.Rf1 d5 40.Bxd5 Raf8.

Fritz shows White now has good winning chances by advancing his Queen side Pawns beginning with 41.b4.

Black could also improve by playing Kg8 one move earlier. After (.22) (24 ply) 27...Kg8! 28.Bd3 h6 29.Bc4 Kh7 30.gxf5 gxf5 31.exf5, Fritz rates the final position as equal (20 ply).

After 31.exf5, a possible continuation would be: 31...Nexd5 32.Qxd5 Nxd5 33.Rxe8 Nf4+ 34.Kf3 Bxe8 35.Kxf4 Bg5+ 36.Kg4 Rd8, with an equal position.

White's 25.Nxe5 was very strong and winning. However, after 25.Nxe5 dxe5, he should have continued, 26.g5!, and if 26..fxe4 27.Qxe5+ Nf6 28.gxf6, or 26...Nf6 27.gxf6 Ng8 28.exf5 Bxf6 29.fxg6, or 26...Nc6 27.exf5 Nge7 28.dxc6 Bxc6+ 29.f3.

Soltis indicated that Black is ok after 26.g5 Nc8 27.Bf4 Bxg5. However, after 26.g5 Nc8, White can play 27.exf5! gxf5 28.Bf4 Nge7 29.Nxf5 Nxf5 30.Rxe5 with a winning position.

Lasker's slip, 26.Qxe5?, gave Steinitz a chance to equalize with 27...Kg8!.

Premium Chessgames Member
  tamar: <Pawn and Two> Thank you for bringing back attention to this game. Although the game continuation looks messy, the overall conception is brilliant.

Shredder 8 confirms your analysis that 33 f3 in your first line is winning. The quiet repositioning of the bishop to d3 with the threat of Bc4 is instructive as a way to play against backrank strategy.

As Gunsberg notes Black is dangerous against a straightforward assault because his pieces are lying in wait, but against the two bishops in the center, it positively creaks.

Premium Chessgames Member
  sachistu: Apparently, the score is not correct. The notes given by Gunsberg do follow those in Cheshire's book of the tournament. However, in the tournament book, Black's 37th is given as ...Qc8 (not ...Qf7, which has been given in various online databases). Crouch's book of Hastings also gives 37...Qc8. Note: Gunsberg does not consider ...Qf7 in his notes to move 37.

Interestingly, Crouch points out that 39.e5 (given in the Tb) "makes the published finish of the game nonsensical" (obviously meaning after 40.Nf5 Black simply plays ...Qxf5). Crouch gives 39.Be5 saying "I assume this was the move actually played" and then the finish 39...Bxc4 40.Nf5. Note: Crouch's assumed move would not apply if Black's 39th was ...Qf7. If the move given in the both books of the tournament is correct, then Crouch's move seems plausible.

Premium Chessgames Member
  sachistu: Perhaps the score is correct after all. A 3rd reference (Schallop's book of the Hastings tournament) has Black's 37th as ...Qf7, in which case the finish with 39.e5 Bxc4 40.Nf5 makes sense. I do not see where Crouch used Schallopp's book in his acknowledgements, so perhaps he did not consult it as he made no reference to that possibility in his comments. It's beginning to look like Cheshire's book is in error, and Crouch copied/used that score.
Oct-17-14  Calli: The newspapers of the day give 37...Qb2 (Qf7) I saw two other publications of Qf7, but they are difficult to read.

Also 37...Qc8 38.Bc4+ Be6 leads to 39.Rd8! resigns. I'd like to see a British newspaper score.

Premium Chessgames Member
  sachistu: Thanks <Calli> I had not checked O'Keefe's excavation. I am presuming the Charleston paper was using the score from the London Daily News, but it would be nice to see it. This seems like one more vote in favor of ...Qf7 and that Cheshire's book was wrong while Crouch propagated the error as I mentioned previously.

It is also possible Gunsberg was working from the position with ...Qf7 thus accounting for why he did not mention that move in his notes e.g it had actually been played!

Oct-17-14  Calli: In the Sun, a little faint, but still Qb2:

And hard to see in the Eagle:

Premium Chessgames Member
  sachistu: Also, thanks <Calli> for mentioning 39.Rd8! (a killer!) I was so focused on trying to figure out how to keep to the published score, I didn't stop to see an even stronger reason ...Qf7 must have been the move. Surely, Gunsberg would have mentioned it had ...Qc8 been the move. And Crouch deserves no kudos for failing to mention it (instead coming up with Be5 which does win, but is not nearly as strong as your move).
Premium Chessgames Member
  sachistu: Yes <Calli> those are hard to read, but I agree it must be ...Qf7 (Q-B2). If it had been ...Qc8, in those days it was almost invariably written Q-B (or Q-B sq)
Jan-18-20  sakredkow: After 17...Ng8, Black's standing room only 8th rank is striking. "Black has now completed his strategic movement towards the rear. If this is good strategy, then the modern theory of development must be all wrong," sez Gunsberg
Premium Chessgames Member
  OhioChessFan: Got to love annotations with humor.
Dec-19-20  Albanius: Gunsberg's note criticizing Steinitz's 10..Qe8 after Lasker's now standard Nf1 gives the lemon 13 Bb3 which runs into ..c4 Bc2 Nxc2, trading off the Spanish B which W has moved 5x. Lasker would no doubt have met 12..Nb4 with 13 Bb1, keeping the usual advantage in space.
Premium Chessgames Member
  kingscrusher: 25.Nxe5 may be made even more effective by first playing 25.g5 it seems 113: Emanuel Lasker - Wilhelm Steinitz 1-0 9.0, Hastings Hastings ENG 1895

click for larger view

Analysis by Stockfish 14:

1. +- (3.70): 25...fxe4 26.Nxe5 dxe5 27.Qxe5+ Nf6 28.gxf6 Nf5 29.Qxe8 Nxe3+ 30.Rxe3 Bxe8 31.Nxe4 Bxf6 32.Nxf6 Rxf6 33.Rd1 Rd8 34.Re7 Rf7 35.Rxf7 Bxf7

2. +- (3.78): 25...Nc8 26.Nxe5 dxe5 27.exf5 gxf5 28.Bd2 Nge7 29.Qxe5+ Kg8 30.Bc3 Qg6 31.f4 c6 32.d6 Nd5 33.Nxf5 Nxf4+ 34.Kh1 Rxf5

3. +- (4.85): 25...Qf7 26.Nxe5 dxe5 27.Qxe5+ Qg7 28.Bd4 Rf7 29.exf5 Nxf5 30.Bxf5 Bxf5 31.Qxg7+ Rxg7 32.Nxf5 gxf5

4. +- (5.00): 25...Rf7 26.Nxe5 dxe5 27.Qxe5+ Rg7 28.Bd4 Qf7 29.Qf4 Be8 30.Rad1 fxe4 31.Rxe4 Nf5 32.Nxf5 gxf5 33.Bxg7+ Kxg7 34.Qe5+ Kf8 5. +- (5.05): 25...Rc8 26.Nxe5 dxe5 27.Qxe5+ Nf6 28.gxf6 Nxd5 29.Qxd5 Bc6 30.Qc4 Bxf6 31.Rad1 Rd8 White is winning

(Gavriel, 15.12.2021)

It seems Lasker's advice "When you see a strong move look for an even stronger one" can perhaps have a couple of variations in my view:

(1) Same fundamental downside - find a move that makes the intended move even stronger (preparation style move)

(2) Different downside - finding a stronger move on a different kind of "vein"

Dec-16-21  SChesshevsky: Guess you have to give Steinitz credit for his certainly creative, likely dubious, ultra passive piece repositioning plan.

But after three straight losses, would have guessed something more standardly conservative might've been more appropriate for this game.

Jan-11-23  tbontb: Surprisingly, the provocative 24....f5 should equalise against 25. Nxe5 after the best continuation 27....Kg8. The losing error is 27....fxg4.
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